The 5 Best Plug Aerators: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

When it comes time to aerate your yard, it’s not always enough to simply punch a hole in your soil and call it a day. Sometimes, certain grass species or plants require looser soil to grow properly. Other times, you may wish to give your lawn or yard plenty of space to absorb extra water and nutrients from the air.

Removing soil in the way that plug aerators do is a great way to open up those holes to greater effect. But which plug aerator is right for you? In our comprehensive guide to the best plug aerators, we’ll show you the top aerators on the market and give you some advice when it comes time to choose. Let’s get started.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

1. Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator

Sale
Yard Butler Lawn Coring Aerator Manual Grass Dethatching Turf Plug Core Aeration Tool ID-6C
  • REMOVES TWO ½” WIDE 3 ½ INCH GRASS PLUG LAWN CORES, reducing soil compaction and dethatching your lawn while letting air, water and fertilizer get down to the roots of your yard.
  • REDUCES RUNOFF AND PROMOTES TURF GROWTH. Your lawn will look better with less water and fertilizer.
  • HAND HELD LAWN AERATOR WITH FOOT BAR FOR EXTRA LEVERAGE. Perfect garden tool for easily aerating smaller yards. Promotes vigorous root growth, strengthening tolerance to drought and heat stress.
  • BUILT TO LAST Durable steel construction, 37 inch tool height is designed to reduce back strain and make it easy to aerate your whole yard.

Last update on 2019-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


This plug lawn aerator is a handheld tool that features two lawn cores, positioned on either end of its wide head. This enables you to cover lots of ground at once, as each pair of holes in your soil will be several inches apart.

This gives plenty of room between the holes you make in your soil to promote soil integrity while still driving deep into your lawn and removing chunks of soil for rain and nitrogen to seep into.

This lawn aerator has a foot bar that allows you to use your leg muscles to plunge the aerator deeper into your ground. As a result, it’s quite easy to use even with tougher soil that doesn’t come apart easily. The cores plunge 3 ½ inches deep into the soil to allow for plenty of penetration and exceptional results.

The aerator as a whole is made of durable steel, so it’ll last for a long time to come. It’s 37 inches high, which is a perfect height to reduce back strain and make it easier to aerate the entirety of your lawn in a single session. Men and women alike will get lots of use from this tool thanks to its comfort and design.

It even features a comfortable handle that’s coated in ergonomic padding. This makes it easier to grip the aerator if it’s slippery outside or if you’ve been at it for hours. All in all, this aerator is affordable, effective, and comfortable to use, even when compared to spike shoe manual aerators. It’s definitely our pick if you prefer a manual tool but don’t want to stop around your yard.

Things We Like:

  • Has a foot bar for extra leverage
  • Gathers lots of soil for each penetration
  • Grip is comfortable
  • Steel Construction is durable

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Foot bar is thin/slippery when wet
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool

Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool - 5 Pounds - Two Prong - Foot Bar - 40 in Height, 7 ½ in Wide
  • THE BEST TOOL FOR LAWN AERATION: This essential lawn tool does not clog, will not break and is designed to work on any type of turf. Your lawn and the soil under it needs to breathe, but the build-up of lawn thatch inhibits this. The Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool breaks up compacted soil, allowing water and fertilizer to penetrate into the root zone, encouraging faster growth and healthier grass or turf.
  • DEEPER SOIL PENETRATION: Utilizing the foot bar on our lawn aerator tool will ensure deeper turf aerification, creating soil cores, on average, as deep as your index finger, even in hard clay or high traffic areas. The aerating tines never clog up and soil cores eject easily. You will be confident that your lawn has been fully aerated.
  • DURABLE STEEL CONSTRUCTION: Our lawn aerator tool is made with heavy-duty yet lightweight steel that meets the highest quality standards. It is powder-coated in Golf Ball white so it is easy to find on any landscape. The “T” bar handle is easy to grip and provides a more natural stance while aerating. We have full confidence that this tool will last you for many years to come, which is why we offer a lifetime warranty on our welds.
  • BUSINESS OR RESIDENTIAL USE: Whether you own or work for a lawn care business or are simply a garden or lawn care enthusiast, our lawn aerator is sure to be your new must-have tool. Truly Holey is perfect for small problem turf areas such as diseased or dry spots. It will get into those tight corners, narrow park strips, as well as in between stepping stones and tree roots where a machine has no chance. You will finally be able to ensure lawn perfection.
  • THE FOUR SEASONS DIFFERENCE: Since 1981, we have been the industry leader in the service of aerating and dethatching lawns in San Diego County, California. In the 38 years that our company has been in business, we have never had a Truly Holey wear out. It is our company’s policy to conduct our business in a manner that gives full attention to every detail for our customers.

Last update on 2019-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


This plug lawn aerator is extremely easy to use and provides exceptional soil penetration. It utilizes twin cores that reach deep into the soil and remove it, clearing away decently sized holes to allow for exceptional water and nitrogen infusing into the ground.

The tool uses a foot bar to give you extra penetrating power and let you plunge the tool into even harder soil without too much effort. The tool is mostly made of heavy-duty but lightweight steel, which gives it exceptional durability and aerating power.

The T-bar handle is also exceptionally easy to grip and is padded with a foam cushion on either side. Your hands aren’t likely to cramp while holding this tool.

This plug lawn aerating tool measures 40 inches high, making it among the most effective aerating tools for taller homeowners or for those who don’t like to bend over during their yardwork. Both of the soil cores are 7 inches apart and are 4 inches long, providing excellent penetration deep into the hardiest of soils.

The gauges themselves are 2 to 4 inches long; this is the amount of soil removed with each plunge. The cores are so durable that they’ll always extract a significant amount of soil even in the hardest clay yards. The cores also feature pointed tips for easier penetration and to make sure that they don’t bend or break if they impact a deeply buried rock or particularly robust soil.

To make things even better, this plug lawn aerator comes with a lifetime warranty for any damage to the main stock of the tool, such as it bending or breaking during regular use. This is a good thing since the asking price is quite high, even compared to other high-quality aerator tools. We still think this is a valuable purchase for those after the best of the best, but it’s definitely not a budget pick.

Things We Like:

  • Very durable overall
  • Comfortable handgrips for repeated use
  • Soil cores extract lots of soil with each plunge
  • Soil cores penetrate deeply

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Very pricey compared to other aerators
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator

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Brinly PA-40BH Tow Behind Plug Aerator, 40-Inch
  • Aerate & Relieve Compacted Soil: 24 heat-treated, 16-gauge Steel plugging spoons penetrate compacted soil and remove up to 3-inch plugs of soil, allowing water, seed, and fertilizer to reach the roots. Brinly plug design is narrower with sharpened ends to allow easier penetration and require less weight.
  • Long-lasting construction: durable, all steel design with Fully-Enclosed Weight tray holds up to 150 pounds of any type of extra weight for maximum soil penetration and depth. Tines are heat-treated for strength. No flat wheels for durability.
  • Easy transport: for crossing drives, walks and rooted areas, Brinly plug aerator includes a single transport lever to engage transport mode using the 10" Never flat rubber tread tires.
  • Works safely on turns & uneven terrain: three independently rotating, Welded Tine sections minimize turf damage during turns and help provide consistent penetration on uneven ground
  • Universal Hitch: a single pin, universal Hitch easily attaches to every lawn tractor and most ztrs and ATVs.

Last update on 2019-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


This tow behind plug aerator is designed to be used behind a moving machine, like a lawnmower or tractor. You can use any vehicle since the aerator comes with a universal hitch including a pin. This hitch easily attaches to most ATVs and commercial tractors, so getting it to fit with your vehicle shouldn’t take too much time.

The aerator is made with an all-steel design and a fully enclosed weight tray that can hold up to 150 pounds of soil. This allows you to aerate wide swaths of your property in a single session rather than having to start and stop frequently.

The aerator has 24 heat-treated 16-gauge steel plugging spoons running along the bottom bar beneath the collection tray. These plugging spoons can remove 3 inches of soil each, allowing for unprecedented aerating progress at extremely fast rates. The plugs are designed for a narrower and sharper and that allows them to penetrate tougher soil more easily without making them way too much.

The wheels of this aerator are properly robust and shouldn’t have difficulty rolling over even bumpy terrain. To make things even better, each plugging spoon is easily removable and serviceable so you can maintain this tow behind plug aerator regularly rather than throwing it away once the quality starts to suffer. Even assembling the aerator doesn’t take too much time thanks to the included instructions and pictures.

Its serviceability is doubly important since it’s quite a pricey aerator that’s best used for farmers or homeowners that have huge tracts of land to aerate. It’s not meant for smaller yards at all.

Things We Like:

  • Can aerate huge sections of soil at once
  • Easy to maintain over time
  • All the parts are durable and long-lasting
  • Easy to assemble

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Very pricey compared to other aerators
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. Step ‘N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator

Step 'N Tilt Core Lawn Aerator Version 3 (with Container)
  • LIMITED TIME OFFER * SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY SALE PRICE! Faster and easier to use than other manual aerators. Simply step and tilt. This patented lawn aerator (U.S. Patent No. 8,714,275 and other patents pending) makes core aeration easy and enjoyable for do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) and professional landscapers.
  • New and improved clog-resistant tines. Case-hardened for extra durability. The tines may be sharpened or replaced when worn.
  • Soil must be very moist but not wet. Designed for operators between 4-feet and 6-feet 5-inches tall. Recommended minimum operator weight to use one set and two sets of tines are 80lbs and 150lbs, respectively. Recommended for aerating small yards or areas not accessible by motorized lawn aerators. It can be used to aerate large yards but will require significantly longer time and effort than a motorized lawn aerator.
  • This unit comes with an optional soil core container. A soil core remover is included. Aerate areas not accessible by motorized aerators. Designed for all kinds of soil, including heavy clay soil.
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed. If you are not completely satisfied, we will refund the full purchase price and pay for the return shipping cost within the 30-day return period. Some assembly is required.

Last update on 2019-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


This core lawn aerator is a manual model that features a unique design. Four cores, one on each corner of a collection box, are perfectly positioned to allow for maximum aeration coverage with each plunge of the tool. The collection box and the cores are delivered across your hard via twin wheels and a handle design that’s a lot like a dolly for moving heavy loads.

As a result, this is one of the easiest plug lawn aerators to use. Driving it around your yard is simple and the case and metal frame have both been reinforced to improve their durability. However, the cores aren’t the most durable we’ve seen and are best used with moist soil or soil that doesn’t include a lot of clay or other hard particles.

The aerator is tall enough to be used for short or tall people alike, and there’s a huge capacity in the collection tray for soil before you need to empty it and take a break. This allows you to handle most or all of your yard in a single aerating session rather than having to stop and start multiple times.

There’s also a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a 30-day return period. This is a fantastic aerator for small residential yards that receive lots of rainfall.

Things We Like:

  • Easy to use
  • Has a collection box with decent capacity
  • Wheels are durable
  • Comes with a satisfaction guarantee

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Not ideal for hardier soil
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. Agri-Fab 45-0474 SmartLink Plug Aerator

Agri-Fab 45-0474 SmartLink Plug Aerator
  • Mounts to the master platform without tools
  • Rustproof aerator knives remove soil plugs to loosen compacted soil making it easier for grass to grow
  • Air, water and nutrients can now reach the soil more easily resulting in a thicker, healthier lawn
  • 3 Year Limited Consumer Warranty

Last update on 2019-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


This plug aerator is perfect for mounting to the SmartLINK master platform, which is used for a variety of lawn or farm and maintenance tasks. As a result, it’s a great choice if you already have an Agri-Fab master platform, but it is not meant to be used with universal hitches or other tractor systems. Keep this in mind if you’re considering purchasing this aerator.

The aerator uses rustproof knives to remove soil plugs from your yard efficiently. The aerator knives have ridges on both sides to assist with efficient soil extraction, and there are 20 knives in total. This allows you to cover a huge amount of area with each hour spent aerating, making it one of the best choices for farmers or for homeowners that have huge yards in need of aeration.

You can mount this aerator to the master platform discussed above without the use of tools. It’s easy to swap attachments between the aerator and other tools, as a result. The frame and the knives themselves are supremely durable and are sure to last for a long time to come.

We also really like the three-year limited customer warranty that comes with the purchase. This covers any manufacturer defects or any breaking that happens as a result of regular wear and tear. It provides lots of value for money.

Things We Like:

  • Has lots of knives to scoop up soil
  • Very durable steel frame
  • Comes with three-year limited warranty
  • Knives are rustproof

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Can only be used with specific master platform
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What to Look for in a Plug Aerator

To find the best plug aerator for your needs, consider the following major aspects before finalizing a purchase.

Depth Penetration

How deep your plug aerator’s spikes go can dictate how effective they are at spreading nutrients into the soil and allowing air and water to penetrate more effectively. Deeper spikes equal more water and nitrogen spreading throughout the soil and better results overall.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to go overboard with how deep your spikes go, however. Most plug aerators have spikes that go about 3 inches or so into your soil. This is suitable for most lawns and you’ll only want to change this debt based on specific plant species you plan to plant into your soil in the season.

Spike Size

Related to how deep each spike penetrates is the spike size. Larger spikes will be able to remove more chunks of soil with each pass than smaller spikes. Therefore, larger spikes are better for bigger yards that need to be taken care of more quickly. However, plug aerators that use larger spikes are also oftentimes more expensive.

You should try to find a plug aerator with spikes that are suitable for the lawn you will be taking care of. Smaller lawns probably don’t need huge holes in them, as the holes will be very noticeable and may even destabilize the soil if they are placed too close together. But larger lines can definitely benefit from big spikes.

Material

Of course, the best plug aerators will be made with durable materials that’ll last for a long time to come. Cheaper aerators will be made from plastic and may be easier to handle but they are liable to break quickly and probably won’t be able to be used for more than a season or two.

Meanwhile, more durable plug aerators might be made of stainless steel or a similar material. These do not accrue corrosive damage and are easier to clean and care for. They’ll last you for several years in a row if you maintain them properly. Steel aerators are also advantageous in that they can remove more soil per pass than plastic ones due to their greater durability.

Overall, we’d recommend high-quality stainless steel aerators if you plan to use them each year for your lawn.

Capacity

Certain plug aerators will have larger or smaller soil capacities, which allows you to tackle more of your lawn in a single trip or take out harder chunks of dirt without issue. Larger capacities in each spike or the collection tray in your plug aerator will allow you to pull out bigger pieces of soil that might have smaller, lighter aerators trouble.

Overall, larger capacities are great for heavy-duty plug aerators that are meant to be used on difficult terrain or with soil that has not been aerated in the past. Smaller capacity aerators are better suited for lawns that have been aerated many times before and which are already somewhat prepared for this year’s aeration process.

How Easy is it to Move the Aerator Around?

Some plug aerators are easy to maneuver around smaller lawns or tight quarters while others are larger, pull-behind styles of tools that are more suited for open space. Consider the size of your lawn and the room you have to maneuver before finalizing a purchase.

We’d recommend smaller plug aerators for more tightly compacted lawns or for sections of lawns that special attention. Larger aerators are best for backyards or for wide swaths of your property that lots of aerating attention. These larger aerators will be able to tackle the increased surface area more quickly even if they are slightly more difficult to move.

Best Plug Aerator Brands

Four Seasons

Makers of the Truly Holey manual lawn aerator, this smalltime company has been in operation since 1981 and has only recently expanded to widescale tool production. Their wares are high quality and built to last, and they offer the service of a small-town company with the reach of a wider corporation.

Yard Butler

Yard Butler’s long-standing tradition of creating quality home maintenance and gardening tools is what earned them a name in this business. Their gear can be relied upon to deliver consistent performance and long-lasting quality each time.

Brinly-Hardy

Brinly-Hardy has been around since 1839 and has been delivering quality lawn and garden gear ever since its founding. They create lawn maintenance here of all makes and models and are a perfect choice for specific tools for personal needs.

Agri-Fab

This company is a well-known manufacturer of lawn and garden attachments based out of Illinois. They have a huge manufacturing facility and employ nearly 500 people, all of whom design quality lawn or farm-focused gear and equipment.

FAQs

Q: Why Use an Aerator?

A: Your soil naturally allows some water and nutrients from the air to mix with its dirt. But some lawns or soil types, such as those with lots of clay, are too heavily compacted to allow water and nitrogen to penetrate into the deeper levels of that same soil.

This can be a problem when planting certain flowers or crops, or when planting new grass because some plants have roots that reach deeper than the topmost layers of your soil. These roots may find no water or nutrients in the lower levels if your soil is too compacted to allow those elements to properly sink.

Aerating your lawn is the process of punching holes in your soil to a specific depth to let water and nitrogen get down into the deeper levels of your soil. This provides a nutritious and healthy environment for plants and will result in a better-looking yard overall.

Q: Why Use a Plug Aerator Over a Spike Aerator?

A: A plug aerator drives spikes or “cores” into the ground the same way that a regular spike aerator does. The difference between the two is that plug aerators force hollow spikes into the ground and, when removed, withdraw soil from your lawn to create a lasting hole.

By removing soil rather than just shoving it apart or compacting in deeper, the holes stay open for a longer period of time, giving water and nutrients from the air more time to reach the lower sections of your lawn.

Therefore, plug aerators are helpful for heavily compacted soil types or for lawns that have never been aerated before. This does require you to deal with the removed soil, but it offers so much better results that it’s usually worth it for most lawn care enthusiasts or home gardeners. Farmers will also make frequent use of plug aerators for the same reasons.

Q: When Should I Use My Plug Aerator?

A: You should use your plug aerator at least once each year, normally before springtime growing season starts. But you can use it about twice a year if you have especially compacted soil or want to plant a certain kind of flower or tree that requires special nutrition at particular soil depths.

Just be careful not to over aerate your yard as this can affect your soil’s stability and cause trouble for growing plants.

Conclusion

The Brinly PA-40BH Tow-Behind Plug Aerator is a phenomenal job for getting plug aerating done in record-breaking time. No other tool can be its ability to aerate huge amounts of your farm or backyard through the assistance of a tractor or another vehicle. The universal hitch included with the purchase will let you use it with whatever vehicle you have on hand rather than having to find a specific hitch for your tractor.

But while the Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool is pricy, it’s also a top-tier choice if you want a hard-core plug aerator that can get the job done each time. Although it’s a manual model, it affords a level of precision and personal control that automated plug aerators simply can’t match. Add to that its durable construction and you have quite the piece of equipment.

Whichever plug aerator you choose, we hope that this guide is been helpful in your next aerating season is successful. Thanks for reading!